Two Common Types of Tow Trucks and When They Are Used

People need towing services for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes, cars become undrivable after accidents away from home. Sometimes, an intermittent engine problem can suddenly shut down the vehicle in the middle of a long drive. No matter the reason you need to call a towing service, having on-call professional assistance is a comfort as much as it is a necessity.

When you call a towing service, they may ask you several questions before sending out a driver. They do this to ensure they send out the right kind of tow truck for your situation. Here are the two most common tow truck types and when they are used.

Hook-and-Chain Tow Trucks

These classic tow trucks are what most people think of when they call a towing service. They look kind of like oversized pickup trucks with small cranes in their beds. When a technician hooks a car to one of these trucks, he or she first lowers the hook from the crane-like bar and connects it to the vehicle's bumper or axle. Once the hook is securely in place, the technician takes heavy chains and wraps them around the frame of the vehicle. With the hook and chains secure, the technician uses a powerful winch to lift the hooked end of the car into the air. This allows the car to rest on two of its wheels. 

Since these trucks pull cars behind them, they only work with front-wheel- or rear-wheel-drive vehicles with their transmissions set to neutral gear. All-wheel- or four-wheel-drive vehicles can become damaged from having only two wheels moving as they are towed, so if you drive one of these vehicles, you likely need a different kind of tow truck.

Flatbed Tow Trucks

These tow trucks are becoming more common as more and more people choose all-wheel-drive vehicles. They are typically larger than hook-and-chain trucks because the entire disabled vehicle needs to fit on the flatbed. To lift the vehicle onto the bed, the technician first tilts the bed to make it into a ramp. Then, he or she hooks the car up to a high-powered winch system with heavy chains attached to the axle or frame of the vehicle. With the vehicle in neutral gear, the technician winches it onto the flatbed before lowering the flatbed back to its original position.

Flatbed tow trucks can tow almost any non-commercial vehicle. For this reason, even if you own a two-wheel-drive vehicle, you may be picked up by a towing service that only uses flatbed trucks. If you drive an all-wheel- or four-wheel-drive vehicle, you almost certainly need to call a towing service that uses flatbed tow trucks.

To learn more about tow trucks, contact towing services in your area.

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